The latest WTA Members Meeting, well chaired by Andrew Campbell and attended by a good cross section of sectoral representatives from the Membership was held this week. Thanks to all for making the journey to a very sunny Llandrindod Wells.
A number of issues and topics were discussed, although the key issue was the Tourism Industry in Wales, post Brexit (if and when there is such a thing) which presents challenges for the tourism industry for growth in business and employment. It was agreed that both the Welsh Government and Industry need to be proactive if any emerging opportunities are to be seized. We are all aware that the business environment will be tough, however if Sterling weakens after March 2019, an increase in international visitors maybe forthcoming, (although recent IPS figures are a little gloomy), however we are optimistic that the so called number of ‘Staycations’ will increase as consumer concerns over costs and delays about travel to Europe unfold.
Related and also discussed was marketing, particularly the latest Welsh Government led 'Year of' Campaign, to celebrate a Year of Discovery which 'invites' visitors to explore what makes a unique Wales, i.e the things you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Other issues included the maintaining and improving of skills needed by the Industry, and recent developments in North Wales related to the North Wales Growth Deal and the transport and adventure tourism project.
Please remember Wales Tourism Week 2019 it starts on the 11th May, with the Annual Reception at the Senedd scheduled for the 14th May with the 15th May 2019 being our Westminster drop in session for Welsh MPs. The banner this year - ‘Strength through Partnership - Team Wales’. Afternoon Event for both, but timings to be confirmed.
Gold medallist chef Nick Davies has been appointed the new manager of Culinary Team Wales. Davies, who lives in Llanidloes and works as a culinary craft trainer with Cambrian Training, steps up to manage the globe-trotting team of chefs, having previously been a team member and captain. After taking six years out of the team to run an award-winning restaurant at the Lion Hotel, Llandinam, Davies returns with great enthusiasm and feels honoured to have been appointed manager.
Having won gold medals at the Culinary World Cup and Hotel Olympia with Wales and an individual gold in the Worldchefs Global Chef regional competition, he knows what it takes to achieve the highest standards on the international stage. As manager, his goal is to guide Wales to gold success in the future and he’s keen to build a squad of between 12 and 15 talented, committed chefs.
He stresses that the team is open to all chefs who have the skills and commitment to compete at the highest level. To qualify, chefs must either work or live in Wales or be Welsh by birth.
“I am looking for chefs who are committed, have a really good skill level, who want to progress in their career and will be proud to represent Wales,” said Davies. “I would like a commitment of at least four years because it’s vitally important that we go to two or three international competitions together to gain knowledge and progress.
“The aim is to build on what the team achieved at the Culinary World Cup last year and to re-energise by working together to create a positive and exciting environment.
The focus will then be on building a team ready for the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart in February next year. Davies is looking forward to the challenge, as welcomed competition changes will see a much greater focus on cooking rather than culinary art.
Chefs wishing to join Culinary Team Wales are asked to contact Davies on Tel: 07944 747902.
The latest International Passenger Survey figures have just been released for Q3 last year. In terms of expenditure, European visitors spent 7% less and visitors from the rest of the world spent a whopping 26% less, that despite weaknesses in Sterling! Whilst we continue to have some reservations about the accuracy of the IPS, nevertheless they are the best indicators we have at present.
Inbound visitor numbers were down 3% to 10.8m and expenditure was down 15% to £7.2bn . A little bit of good news...VFR travel increased by 1%, while business visits increased by 6%. Visitors from North America were up 9%. Flipside, outbound tourism numbers were up 1% to 24.2m in Q3 and expenditure was up 3% to £16.4bn. So despite all the other upside down issues that we face at this crucial moment in Global, as well as UK politics, the UK consumer still sees travel overseas as an essential.
The Welsh Government are consulting on corrections to Welsh statutory instruments derived from EU law. These relate to food marketing standards, labelling and school milk. The proposed amendments correct deficiencies. They are made in order to ensure the law remains effective should there be a no deal Brexit. The changes should not affect Welsh industry. The affected legislation is:
The Quarterly Tourism Cross Party Group (CPG), chaired by Suzy Davies AM, met to focus on the issue of International Tourism. This follows the previous CPG which reviewed Tourism Research and issues relating to the International Passenger Survey (IPS).
Anthony Pickles, Head of Tourism Affairs at Visit Britain was invited to present an update on the work of Visit Britain and it's Programme for promotion of the Wales Tourism Product. Adrian Greason-Walker followed with an analysis of key figures reaching back over the last 40 years and using more recent statistics over the last three years to illustrate a number of industry concerns particularly with regard to a lack of growth in numbers and value. He also made comparisons with Scotland and raised a number of questions, 'Why has Scotland outperformed Wales for so long? What are we doing wrong and what could we do better'?
A great deal of debate followed with Visit Wales; Members of the WTA and with the Assembly Members present. Visit Britain and Visit Wales discussed closer working relationships; the need to focus resources and their ability to react swiftly with regard to changes in consumer need and sentiment. Visit Britain also agreed that Wales needed to be central to the UK product in order to encourage more visitors to leave London and explore.
Not much mention of tourists, however... 'Developing places' which enrich people’s lives is at the heart of Wales’ new planning policy, which was launched by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths last month. The refreshed Planning Policy Wales, will underpin all future planning decisions, will put an emphasis on people and places and ensure developments built today leave a legacy of well-designed, sustainable places which improve lives. Let us hope so.
The new policy has a firm focus on ‘placemaking’ – an approach to development which ensures communities have all the services they need within easy reach and development is of high quality. Wales will be the only country in the UK to take this approach to planning.
Other key changes to Wales’ planning policy which are designed to help Wales lower its carbon emissions at the same time as creating places people can live well, include:
Passport Office issues advice as part of their Contingency Planning in the event of a No Deal Brexit
UK nationals travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019 need to have six months left on their UK passport from the date of travel. This applies to both adult and child passports. Those who have had extra months added to their existing ten year UK passport, because they renewed their old passport before it expired, may find that these additional months do not count towards the six months that should be remaining. As the UK could crash-out the EU at the last moment, it is therefore important that any customer with a passport that expires within six months of their date of travel get their passport renewed as soon as possible.
Following a year of celebrating Wales’ epic shoreline during Year of the Sea, Visit Wales has launched gearing up for Year of Discovery 2019 - when people will be encouraged to rediscover Wales and find something new about Wales and about themselves.
Lord Elis-Thomas said: “I’d like to thank the industry for their support during the Year of the Sea as well as during the previous themed years. By coming together and working in partnership Wales has a strong voice – in a very competitive marketplace. We know that our themed year campaigns are generating over £350m a year in the economy and that the 2018 television advert, featuring Luke Evans, was positively received by our target audiences. And now we will embark on our Year of Discovery. In 2019 we want to encourage our visitors to discover Wales anew, to discover new parts of Wales and to try out enriching outdoor, adventure and cultural experiences across the country".
“Wales is full of hidden corners; as well as world-famous attractions. And so the challenge is set to visit places you have never been before; or to try something for the very first time. Go coasteering or zip-lining; tick off more of Wales’s 600 castles from your must-see list; or to visit one of our galleries or museums to learn something new about our past. Sain Ffagan’s new £30 million redevelopment is a great place to start.”
A multi-media international campaign on the theme of discovery will run throughout 2019, with activity planned in Wales, across the rest of UK, Ireland and international markets. The campaign will be on digital, television, on on-demand platforms, and in key travel hubs from January in Wales - with the main marketing push across the rest of the UK taking place in March around the key holiday booking times.
Further events and activities are planned throughout the year – with more details to be announced early in 2019. The Deputy Minister will kick-start Year of Discovery 2019 with visits to west Wales.
Six months into my role as Chair, it is a great opportunity to extend my thanks to all our members for their continued support and to our four new members recruited over the last twelve months – and therefore to convey a brief end of term update. It has, as they say, been an interesting six months.
The Tourism Industry in Wales is undoubtedly entering a new world, politically, socially and technologically. Whilst we may feel powerless to influence seismic political events, there are issues closer to home where the WTA can and has been making its mark. At this juncture, it would be remiss of me not to record my appreciation of the sterling work carried out by our Policy Advocate, Adrian, whose level of knowledge and insight never fails to amaze me. Special thanks also to Eirlys, Ffion and Zoe for their unstinting admin support which is so critically important. So progress to date in brief:
We have advocated our case and met with Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Minister with Tourism portfolio, to register our stance as per our strategy (which we updated in August this year) on devolved tourism issues. We have also contacted UK Government Ministers, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, again setting out our position here in Wales. Taking in the possibility of a change of UK Government, we have also sent correspondence to the Shadow Tourism Minister, with a request to meet in the near future.
We have responded to consultations on various issues, including more recently the Welsh Government’s proposals for a new Land Management Programme, proposals for the National Development Framework for Wales and the Inquiry into the implications of Brexit for Welsh ports. We have also been consulted on issues as wide ranging as Non-Domestic Business Rates; consumer protection in the package travel sector and of course the on-going issue of tourism tax!
We have also represented the WTA and your interests in face to face meetings with Welsh Government; VisitBritain, sector related seminars, tourism interest & association membership groups and presented evidence to committee on the industry’s behalf. Responses also given to the media. Whilst this is brief resume, we will continue to keep you informed on a daily basis via our tweets and of course here on our website (www.wta.org.uk/news) and for members at our membership meetings.
Please don’t forget Wales Tourism Week (w/c 12th May 2019), so please put that date in your diaries. More details to follow....and finally many thanks to the Caravan and Motorhome Club for hosting us at the Christmas Luncheon, it was great to see so many friends of the WTA in London yesterday.
May I wish you all, Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Andrew Campbell – Chair
Wales Tourism Alliance
The Law Commission recognises that the legislation governing the planning system in Wales is often confusing and unhelpful, whilst it has been much amended over the last 30 years, it is still full of obsolete provisions. The Welsh Government invited the Law Commission to review the legislation relating to planning as it applies in Wales and their final report was put before the UK Parliament and the Assembly on the 3rd December. The Welsh Government will now provide an interim response to the report by the end of May 2019, and a detailed response by the end of November 2019.
The Law Commission now hopes that their proposed reforms will be adopted and form a key input into a new Planning (Wales) Bill, possibly alongside a new Historic Environment (Wales) Bill to be laid before the Assembly during this assembly term. This new legal basis for planning control in Wales, will replace the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, the Listed Buildings Act 1990, the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, five other Acts, the relevant parts of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, and parts of another 25 pieces of legislation.
Public Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC stated: “Planning law is simple in principle, but notoriously complex in practice. This Report contains a wide range of recommendations as to technical reforms to the legislation, that will hopefully lead to the creation of a well-structured Planning Code for Wales.”
The report can be downloaded from here: www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/planning-law-in-wales/